A few words about the Nevada Current’s debut in the state press awards…

By: - September 23, 2019 11:00 am
The Current's staff

Nevada Current staff. Front: Michael Lyle, April Corbin, Dana Gentry. Back: Hugh Jackson, Jeniffer Solis.

The Current's staff
Nevada Current staff. Front: Michael Lyle, April Corbin, Dana Gentry. Back: Hugh Jackson, Jeniffer Solis.

(Editor’s note: The following appeared in Monday’ morning’s Daily Current newsletter, which you can sign up for here.)

The Nevada Press Association announced winners of its annual awards contest over the weekend, and for a publication that didn’t even start publishing until a quarter of the contest year was already over, the Nevada Current made a respectable showing.

In fact, pound-for-pound, we sort of rocked.

Let’s start with the Community Service award. First place went to the Las Vegas Review-Journal – the entire paper – for stories about the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass murder. Second went to five Reno Gazette Journal journalists for their coverage of a quadruple murder. And third place went to … one reporter, the Current‘s Michael Lyle, for his coverage of homelessness. More journalists were listed on the RJG‘s entry then there are reporters on the Current‘s staff.

In the Investigative Story category, the RJ won first and second place. Coming in third was the Current‘s Dana Gentry for her reporting on death, practices and profits at rehabs. “Strong reporting on a topic that is too often ignored,” the judges, who this year were members of the Arizona Press Association, wrote about Dana’s entry. “Competition in this category was very strong—and not a significant difference between first and third.” My favorite part is the bit about “a topic that is too often ignored,” because coverage of urgent topics that are too often ignored is part and parcel of the Current‘s mission. (Btw Dana’s coverage helped prompt a new law mandating increased state regulatory monitoring of rehab facilities)

April Corbin garnered second place in Feature Writing (a category I prefer to think of as enterprise reporting) for a story explaining a fact that (again) is often ignored in Nevada: how household socio-economics can have more influence on educational performance than anything that happens in a classroom. “Solid journalism; relies on the organization of facts to drive the story forward,” reads the judge’s comment. “Ethos, pathos and logos are all intelligently and intentionally deployed.” That last bit isn’t a bad summary of just about everything April writes. I also draw your attention to the phrase “organization of facts,” because in this day and age of hostility to the media, we should not let the word “facts” go unnoticed.

(To be honest I thought the Current‘s Jeniffer Solis had a good shot at the Journalist of Merit award, which honors journalists with less than five years in the profession. But it frankly never occurred to me that the competition might include the Indy‘s Riley Snyder, and if you’re going to lose that award to someone, it might as well be him. Congrats, Riley! Jen, meanwhile, still has a few years of eligibility.)

So, of the four reporters on the Current staff, three of them were recognized. Most if not all the news organizations in the “Urban Dailies” category with which the Current was competing, and certainly all who won multiple awards, have substantially (if not ginormously) larger staffs and resources than we do.

And I wish their staffs were even larger.

“The more the better. That at bottom is what this is about. More reporting, more news, to promote the public good.” That’s what I wrote in a “Note from the editor” when we launched the Current 15 months ago. There is so much great work from Nevada journalists reflected in this year’s press awards. I want all those organization to continue to grow, and do more reporting.

But come on! The amount and quality of work the Current consistently produces with such a small staff is impressive, no? And to reiterate an earlier point, so much of our work is driven by the ambition to provide trenchant coverage of and new perspectives on issues that don’t get as much attention as they deserve. Maybe the most common comment I hear or see from people about the Current is we’re “a breath of fresh air.”

Congratulations to everyone recognized in the press awards this weekend, and to all the Nevada journalists who work long and exceedingly irregular hours to try to tell you what’s going on ’round here. As you may have noticed, it is not a particularly easy job these days, for a lot of reasons, not least because the president of the United States maliciously describes the press as an “enemy of the people.” Nevada reporters aren’t enemies of the people. They are people. People doing their jobs.

Nevada still needs more reporting. More reporting costs more money. I mentioned I want every news organization in the state to grow, and needless to say that includes the Current. The Newsroom, a nonprofit network of state news outlets that includes the Nevada Current, provides the foundation of our funding, so we’re super fortunate. But it’s not like we’ve got some big financial cushion. To grow, and cover more stories and issues with fresh perspectives other news organizations sometimes don’t (or won’t, or can’t) see, we need local support, too.

To those of you who have contributed, we are very grateful. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same. And to everyone, if you want to contribute, you can do that here.

And again, congratulations, and thank you, to Michael, Dana, April, and Jen, for absolutely positively everything.

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